It may sound weird but I probably feel as strongly about a great blue heron as Matisse did about a female torso(I'm only talking about aesthetics of course). If artists supposedly reflect the concern of their times, then today when nature is the greatest concern on a global scale, I suppose nature's images would be logical for a contemporary artist.Sculptor Kent Ullberg as quoted in American Wildlife Art by David J. Wagner
I finished off this wonderful book by David J. Wagner right in the middle of my latest linocut. What struck me about this quote is that it gets to the heart of the primary subject of this blog: art that is based on nature, not just nature, not just art, not just nature sketches, but ART in capitals, that uses nature as its subject.
I'm using a bit of hyperbole in saying ART in capitals but just a bit. If you think of the best art, whether it's music, literature, painting, sculpture, novels or whatever you know that it has high aspirations. And it must meet at least some of them or it wouldn't be widely recognized.
My background is fine art, where at least in theory the goal is to create art in caps. Of course much doesn't and much is preposterous, bombastic nonsense. But the goal is honest I think. However for the last 100 years or so I don't think that there are many in the fine art world who really even consider art with nature as its subject as being fine art. By definition it is a lower form of art.
Now I know that this is nonsense and it's a very foolish, arrogant attitude. Nonetheless it's there. Wildlife Art Journal often touches on this theme as well. But I've yet to read an argument that I think will hold water in the fine art world.
Until I read the Kent Ullberg quote above. Nature is a overriding concern throughout the world today and it only makes sense that ambitious artists should use it as their theme.
That said I thought in the back of my mind as I concentrated on finishing the linocut that when I was finished I'd write a post such as this and illustrate it with a quick Great Blue Heron watercolor.
But as I looked through my photos I got distracted by my photos of Black-throated Blue warblers from this fall. Perhaps I care as much about them, and the Hercules Club that they feed on, as Kent Ullberg feels about Great Blue Herons.
Sad to say much of the breeding habitat of this beautiful warbler is being threatened by indiscriminate energy exploration and extraction in the Marcellus Shale fields of Pennsylvania.